With its awe-inspiring peaks, verdant pastures and pretty Alpine towns and villages, the Dolomites offer countless opportunities for some summertime R&R. So whether you want to unwind or need an adrenaline fix, this wild side of the Italian Alps is a veritable outdoor playground where you can disconnect from the rest of the world.
Tucked away on a ridge overlooking the Valle d’Angheraz (Angheraz Valley) is El Cor, a heart-shaped arch on the Pale dei Balconi. Narrow paths snake their way up the mountainside, offering scenic views of the surrounding jagged mountains. The climb presents technical and physical challenges, so as routes are largely unmarked, using an expert accredited guide is essential.
Dotted around the Dolomites are a number of vie ferrate – mountain-climbing routes with steel rungs, ladders, steps, suspension bridges and walkways for hikers and climbers. One of the least-challenging routes is Sass de Rocia, with stairways and bridges to help along the way. It ends at the rustic Bivacco Pian delle Stelle mountain hut, where you can recharge and bed down for the night. Otherwise, the start of the year often sees plenty of events taking place, with many flocking here to soak up gorgeous sunrise views from the top of the Marmolada mountain – known as the Queen of the Dolomites.
Once a historic trade route that connected the fertile valleys of the Dolomites, the Viel dal Pan traces the ridge of the Passo Fedaia (Fedaia Pass) at an altitude of 2,500m (8,200ft). This offers hikers panoramic views of the majestic Ghiacciaio della Marmolada (Marmolada Glacier) and the Sella Mountain Range. To get here, hop on the Porta Vescovo cable car from Arabba, a charming village renowned for its stunning scenery and views of the surrounding peaks. On the descent towards Passo Pordoi, you’ll hike through wild flower meadows and pastures, home to marmots and grazing cattle. Largely flat with very few climbs, this route is perfect for those keen to enjoy a leisurely hike.
For an adventure to remember, a trek through Val Civetta to the Rifugio Tissi offers spectacular, panoramic views of Mount Civetta – one of the most striking natural wonders in the Dolomites. Set off from Alleghe to Piani di Pezzè by cable car, then follow the path for a lengthy walk towards Coldai refuge before eventually arriving at Lake Coldai. The next stretch beyond the lake runs along rocky wall of the Civetta – which looms majestically above – and leads to the Col Reàn. At the fork, a final, tricky climb eventually promises respite at Rifugio Tissi, where you can spend the night and wake up to most awe-inspiring sight – the towering perspective of Mount Civetta, known as the ‘wall of the walls’.
Thrill seekers can get their heart pumping at the Zip Line San Tomaso Agordino. With a vertical drop of 260m (850ft), you’ll fly past epic mountain scenery at 80kph (50mph), gazing at snowy peaks and valleys dotted with traditional villages. The longest zip line in the Dolomites, it stands at the foot of Monte Civetta.
Renowned as one of the most challenging stages of the Giro d’Italia bicycle race, Passo di Giau (Giau Pass) is served by trekking trails that snake through breathtaking mountain scenery. Characterised by craggy peaks and crumbling white rocks rolling onto green meadows, it’s a good spot to watch the sun rise or set as it bathes the surrounding peaks in soft pinks and reds.
Formed of volcanic rock, Cima Pape is a mountain that towers 2,503m above the surrounding peaks in the sleepy town of Cencenighe. To see magnificent views from the top, set off from Cencenighe to the quaint village of Bogo by car. From there, set foot towards Chiot, passing rustic barns and carved stones, before a steep, sign-laden slope for Cima Pape leads you the summit. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic scenery of some of the Dolomites’ most impressive peaks, including Monte Civetta and Marmolada. It can be tricky on the way up, so it’s recommended to go with a guide.
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